Home > Taming Cross(16)

Taming Cross(16)
Author: Ella James

I need to get out of here, fast. There’s an exit over to my left, beside a bathroom sign. I could run right now, but first…I kneel under the table, heart pounding in my ears, and reach inside Carlos’s pockets until I feel something hard and square. My hand is shaking as I work it out, then drop the phone in my pocket beside mine.

“Thanks,” I mutter.

I get up and walk quickly to the exit door. When I feel a rush of dry air on my face, I lunge into a run and don’t stop until I mount the bike—left leg first, the way I do it fastest. For once, it actually works.

The entire time I’m trying to get my left arm in that damn band, I’m sweating bullets. I glance up once more before I gas the bike, going almost sixty before I even leave the lot. I don’t slow down until I’m near Ejido Choropo, a rural area south of Mexicali. I pull over in the shelter of a small, scrubby tree and ask Carlos’s map app how to get to Guadalupe Victoria.

I wonder if Missy King is even there.

In less than two hours, I’ll finally know.

 

 

11

 

 

Merri

 

 

SEAN WAS AMBITIOUS, but he was raised by a drug addict father and he didn't have any money when he got to Athens Technical College. I think he planned to try school, but it wasn't long before he realized he could exercise his entrepreneurial spirit dealing pot.

Sean and I started dating around the time I graduated, and at first I thought what he did for a living was awful. It wasn’t especially dangerous—he was selling to college kids, after all—but when I stayed at his place at night I used to have nightmares about the police kicking his door in and shooting us as we startled awake.

After a few months, I got used to it. I even started to think of myself as some kind of outlaw by association. He enjoyed the way I saw him: some renegade/freedom-fighter mash-up. When Sean insisted on paying for my apartment in Atlanta while I tried to get my freelance writing career going, I let him. The job market sucked, and my aunt and uncle were already helping Landon. By the time Sean needed to move in because there was too much heat on his place, I had started to get weary of his lifestyle. But Sean was paranoid, and he needed me. That’s what I told myself.

A few weeks later, Sean decided he wanted to move to Vegas and deal drugs there. I thought of Vegas as a sleazy, gross kind of place, but I knew I would go with him if he asked. I thought I might get some good freelance stories out of it. Maybe I could do something on some of the girls. Something for a national publication. Or if worse came to worse, one of the Atlanta-based magazines that I had worked with.

Finally, at the end of February, we decided it was time to try Vegas. I had packed his car, a brand new black Corolla with shiny rims. He was in one of his paranoid moods, convinced the cops were coming to get him, and I remember I had offered him a handful of my Skittles as we got into the car.

“Everything is fine.”

I can still hear myself saying that, half a second before the squeal of tires.

They shot him with rubber bullets and came for me, but Sean had another car, a sleek white Mustang he kept parked two streets over, as a getaway car. I had the keys; I was going to drive it to a trucking company that would ship it across the country.

As I raced away, clutching Sean’s key ring and aiming for the Mustang, he was screaming for me, screaming my name like the selfish jerk he was, I guess—but I kept running. I got the keys into the ignition just as a rubber bullet hit the side of the car. Somehow I made it off the one-way side street, out of downtown, onto the interstate.

I got some money at the first ATM I saw and drove straight to Vegas, only stopping for bathroom breaks and gas. I wasn't sure where else to go. Later, on the AJC online, I read about the bust. The police were searching for me. They wanted to ask me questions.

I ditched Sean’s Mustang immediately. He had ten thousand dollars in a gym bag, plus two bricks of marijuana. A lot to have in a gym bag, but not enough to last me. I ended up at the Starry Night Brothel and pretended to be reporting. I guess I didn't know what else to do. I liked the girls, and they liked me. It was a reputable-seeming place. I met the owner, a woman named Tess, and I told her what had happened. She offered to sell the weed for me, but she wanted something in return. She wanted me to service a client of hers. Drake Carlson—the governor of California.

“He only does blow jobs,” she told me. “Thinks it's not really cheating if it's not sex, but they say he's impotent.”

I remember sitting on the leather couch in Tess’s suite, looking at my hands and wondering if I could give a blow job to a total stranger. To someone kind of…old.

But Tess thought she could get a lot of money from the weed, and I needed money. I was terrified of going back to Georgia, terrified of prison—even though I’d never done any drug dealing myself—and terrified that maybe Sean was crazy enough to try to pin the whole thing on me. I didn't know what else to do, so I agreed.

It was weird. Not what I’d ever imagined for myself, but I tried to pretend I was a character in a book. We had dinner. Wine. Drake was charming. Funny. Even protective, in a way that Sean had never been. I felt an element of safety for the first time since landing in the city. He said he wanted to see me again, and proved it by pre-paying the brothel. It was a lot of money—and he hadn’t been so bad. The next time he was in town, I went down on him. He wasn't impotent, but it was hard to get him off.

The third time, a hot weekend in May, he wanted to touch me. After that, he always touched me, but he never asked for anything except blow jobs.

Soon I was going to dinners with him. He started introducing me as his mistress. I was living there, with Tess, and I wasn't an escort. I was a blow job queen. He named me Missy King, and that's who I was on Tess's roster.

Months passed, and I was making more money than Sean had with his pot. And I was saving every penny of it. Once I got a hundred thousand dollars, I wanted to move to California, to San Francisco, and start a new life.

I didn’t get there, obviously.

Drake’s Las Vegas body guard started dropping by to see me sometimes. His name was Jim Gunn, and I always thought he was a creeper. He used to stare at me like he wanted to eat me for dinner. But the first time, he told me Drake wanted him to take me out to dinner, to see how I was doing. It had been three weeks since the governor was able to make it my way, so I took Jim at his word. He was on Drake’s payroll, after all.

After that, Jim took me out to dinner once a week, every week, always asking me personal questions and questions about my past. So the governor could “do damage control” if anyone ever found out he was seeing me. I hated going out with Jim, but I did what I was paid to do. Not once did Drake ever mention my outings with Jim, and it wasn’t my job to mention things to Drake.

One week in August, just after Drake had been in town for a ‘celebrity’ poker tournament, I starting hearing things about this porn star named Priscilla Heat. How she wanted Drake. How she thought I wasn’t worth his money. Just a few days later, the rumor started that I was cheating on the governor with Jim Gunn.

Drake never asked me about it. He came to Vegas one more time, and we went to a fancy casino restaurant with some of his friends. He went home on a Sunday, but on Monday, Jim Gunn called and told me he’d decided to stay. He wanted me to meet him at his penthouse at the Wynn.

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